Monday, December 15, 2014

How My Marriage Can Save Your Business a Lot of Money

photo credit: ucumari photography via photopin cc
I love my husband dearly. Really.

He's one of the brightest people on the planet.

But...well, we don't always see eye to eye. Especially when it comes to websites.

You see, back in 2001 or 2002 or something like that, he bought this gi-freakin'-normous ecommerce website development package for eight grand, including unlimited licenses.

Oh, there's no doubt the thing is impressive. There's not a bell or whistle this system doesn't have. Backups up the wazoo, an email automation system, more places to stuff keywords than the entirety of Google, the capability to handle every currency on the planet...

But it's an effin' behemoth.

And while it's probably perfect for creating big corporate or a government websites, it's ludicrous for a startup or solopreneur.

Sort of like hooking up an elephant to pull a tricycle.

There seems to be a false premise out there that the first thing a new business has to do is build a big, complicated website, otherwise they're not "legitimate".

And so these tiny little startups will invest $5,000, $10,000 to have a designer build a website that would have the Mona Lisa singing its praises (if she were a tech kind of girl. And had vocal cords that worked.)

And then they publish this monster...

...and nobody cares.

Because nobody knows about it.

Except maybe Google, if you poke all of the right keywords in the right places ... but then Google has one of its bouts of algorithm diarrhea and suddenly you're back on page 20 of the keyword searches again.

It's enough to make an SEO expert's head explode.

So you have to have a website, yes. But you also need a way to point people there.

Which is where marketing comes in. Social media, word-of-mouth, radio interviews, cold calls, flyers, email newsletters, Google searches ... all of that stuff.

The marketing part goes out there and finds warm bodies and directs them to your website.

Then your website sorts the warm bodies into "prospects" and "everybody else", pushes away the "everybody else", and entices your prospects into checking you out more thoroughly ... which then, eventually, persuades them into hiring you or buying your stuff.

Now, if you have a smart marketer (like me :-) working for you, they can go find pockets of good prospects and send higher-quality traffic to your website.

Plus they can find good radio shows and podcasts and other audiences for you to go strut your stuff in front of so you look like an expert (which you are).

People whose pants have been impressed off are more likely to buy from you, don't you agree?

So, how 'bout it?

Let's go de-pants some audience.

Hm. Breezy...

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Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO
719-937-1815

symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Know Thy Fishies

photo credit: Manny Hernandez via photopin cc
Just landed a "cold call" podcast interview for two of my clients.

I always get the biggest darn kick out of making a new introduction, tying a new knot in the web of connections.

It's like I'm introducing my friends to each other and watching them get acquainted.

It's really cool.

Networking...making connections...getting to know your clients and customers...that's where the magic really happens.

I mean, sure, sending out social media and email blasts, radio and newspaper ads, Google searches...they're all good. It's sort of like casting a big net over a big area and seeing what sorts of fish end up in it.

Nothing wrong with that. And you can even snag your dinner that way.

But the way to generate raving fans isn't by casting a big net.

It's by getting to know the fish.

Learning about their opinions and views, their quirks and subtleties, kidding them in ways that they like to be kidded, telling jokes that they enjoy...

Knowing what they like in their virtual coffee, or that they prefer their virtual martinis with a twist of lemon instead of olives.

(Actually, make that three olives, please, topped with a cocktail onion, and you bet I'm gonna eat those puppies. Ahhhhh...sometimes I miss drinking...)

Anyway, happy clients and customers are your biggest fan club. Your best evangelists. Except for me, of course.

So it's worthwhile spoiling 'em rotten in the ways in which they love most.

So why not let me pave the way a little bit?

Find out what makes 'em tick, figure out what you have in common, so that when you actually meet, they think you're uber-cool from the get-go?

And then they can go forth and preach the gospel of you to the world.

Whaddaya say?

symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com


SUBSCRIBE (upper right) and get a FREE copy of my eBook, 
The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online: Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in 2 Hours a Day or Less

Enjoy this article? Consider giving me some social media love on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus
Or come talk business with newbies and experts over on my Facebook group:
Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist 
Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO
719-937-1815

symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com

Monday, December 1, 2014

8 Awesome Christmas Gifts You Can Buy for Your Business (or Your Favorite Business Owner)

photo credit: MRHSfan via photopin cc
The Season is upon us.

Black Friday is behind us, up next, Santa Claus, Christmas lights, holly, elves, carols, and all that good stuff.  

And it can be a really wonderful time, a time when we show our appreciation by buying meaningful gifts for the people we care about. 

So why not also show some appreciation to our businesses? 

After all, our businesses make all of this shopping possible in the first place, right?

And the nice thing is...

If you buy the right Christmas presents for your business, your business gives back to you -- with interest! -- by making more money.

Heckuva deal if you ask me.

So, without further ado...

...here are:

8 Awesome Things You Can Buy for Your Business (or Your Favorite Business Owner) For Christmas: 



One of the nicest things you can buy for a business is some personal development for the business owner. As a very wise friend of mine said once, "If you don't take care of the goose, it stops laying golden eggs." 

2. A DIY complete online presence, including a website/blog, social media, and online business listings.

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, you don't currently have an online web presence and marketing strategy, and you can spare a couple of hours a day for two weeks while business is slow, this Kindle book will show you how to set up a blog, three social media accounts, and some online business listings, and then automate them so that, once they're set up, maintenance is pretty minimal.

3. A subscription to a business listing management service like Yahoo! Localworks or Yext.

If you're a local brick-and-mortar business, online business listings are a must, but keeping them all up-to-date can be a nightmare. For a small monthly fee, Yahoo! Localworks allows you to update all of your online listings at once -- which is a heck of a lot easier than trying to do them one at a time.

Ready to go platinum? Check out Yext...which gets you on just about every local business listing known to man. And woman.

4. A comprehensive marketing strategy and sales funnel.

If you know you should be doing more marketing, but you're trying to kind of piece it together on your own and you're not sure what you're doing, give these guys "an hour and a white board", and they'll get you all set up.

5. A website copy makeover.

If you're directing a lot of traffic to your website but not seeing very many sales, have this guy -- one of the best copywriters I know -- look at and tweak your copy for you. Better yet, sign up for his program and learn to do it yourself. 

6. A podcast.

Podcasts are big. They're big enough that they attracted the attention of this billionaire, who wasn't even interested in podcasting until he realized how many people he could reach. If you don't know how to podcast, or you have one and it has taken over your life, these people can help.

7. Google HOA lessons.

Google Hangouts on Air are the best darn things since sliced bread. Not only do you get to connect and chat with your fans while you're actually on the air, but Google automatically backs your broadcasts up to YouTube -- the second biggest search engine on the Internet. It's a sweet deal -- and this guy will show you the ropes (even though it's not explicitly on his website). 

8. Publicity.

This is what I do. Beyond just social media, I go out there and look for opportunities to make you -- or your favorite business owner -- look like an expert, and get you (or them) in front of potential clients and customers. This might look like an interview on a podcast, HOA, local radio station, or perhaps a mention in an online blog such as the Huffington Post or Inc.com.

Conclusion: 


Remember when you're out there buying gifts for everyone, make sure and get a little something for those who make Christmas shopping possible: the businesses and the business owners.

Happy shopping!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Symblème Services Online

Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Monday, November 24, 2014

No Matter What the Question Is, the Answer is In the Refrigerator

No Matter What the Question Is, the Answer is In the Refrigerator

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite forms of procrastination is eating.

It's a good thing that I bicycle, walk, or run -- sometimes all three, up to 8 or 10 miles -- every single day; otherwise I'd weigh 300 pounds!

When my mind is working on a particularly big, gnarly problem, but I don't want to actually sit down and tackle it, 

Sure enough, I'll "wake up" and find myself standing in front of the refrigerator, whether I'm hungry or not.

(Great thing to do? Ask yourself at this point whether or not you would eat broccoli. If the answer is "no", chances are you're not really hungry. There's your diet tip of the day. That'll be $200, please.)

Take for instance, that gnarly problem of finding new clients. 

Ugh, cold calling. Yech.

Nobody wants to deal with that, right?

Five more pounds, right there.

Well, the fact is, beating the bushes for clients isn't everybody's forte, and if it isn't yours, you shouldn't have to deal with it. 

You should be focused on what you're good at: creating a great product or service and running your business. 

Leave the bushwhacking to me. I'm one of those crazy people who happens to be good at that stuff. 

(I even think it's fun. But don't tell anybody, okay? They already think I'm weird. Shhhhhh...)

So give me a shout.

Your waistline will thank you. And so will your bank account.



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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marketing to Millennials 101

Photo source: Inc.com


"Wise companies can use the new consumer to their advantage [while] the not so wise will get left behind."

The Millennial Generation is a hard nut to crack. It encompasses people born from the '80s to the 2000s and has proven to be the most radically different generation since the industrial revolution. With the introduction of the Internet and all of the social platforms that go along with it, this generation has become one of the smartest, most opinionated, and globally astute group of consumers in recent memory. Companies looking to cash in on the Millennial dollar have had to change the way they do business.

For the first time companies have had to actually had to ask themselves not just what demographic they want to market to but what is that demographic's core values set or governing set of principles. Some companies like American Eagle Outfitters have embraced the new marketing with campaigns like their Aerie Lingerie line and the newly conceived Distressed Denim Campaign. Both of these campaigns have homed in on one of the Millennial Generations core values, individualism.

In addition, Burger King, which has a strong focus on the Millennial Generation with its acquisition of Tim Hortons, has a CEO who is in his early 30s and is already regarded as a thought leader in modern business. What better way to understand the younger generation than having a chief executive officer who's a member of it!

Others have not taken the time to really understand the new marketing and have fallen out of favor with a large base of consumers such as national cable providers and Microsoft.


UNDERSTANDING THE MILLENNIAL CONSUMER

Changes in technology and global awareness have helped to develop a new consumer. These consumers are more aware of their product options and spend more time researching a product or service before they buy. Where and how you advertise your product has to change as well.

The Millennial Generation, for the most part, believes in these core principles, among others:

  • They have the right to be heard
... 

Read the rest of the original article here

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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue

Alamosa, CO 81101

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Minimalist Guide to Twitter: How to Handle It in 15 Minutes a Day

Photo source: Boost Blog Traffic
The biggest downside to social media?

The temptation to get sucked in.

Yep, it's WAAAAAAY too easy to sit down and say, "Okay, I'm gonna block out the next 30 minutes or so and do my social media engagement..."

And then three hours later, you're still chasing threads on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus...

We all know what a time suck social media can be. But we still have to do it.

Fortunately for us all, Jimmy Daly over at Boost Blog Traffic has put together a bunch of really great tips for paring down our social media activities to the ones that will give us the most bang for the buck.

Oh, and I totally agree with them: if you don't already have Hootsuite, go get it. Now. And use the autoscheduler. It's the bomb. I'll have to write a post on it sometime soon.

In the meantime, enjoy:

The Minimalist Guide to Twitter: How to Handle It in 15 Minutes a Day

Has this ever happened to you?
You venture over to Twitter to share your latest blog post.
You type your message, click Tweet and you’re just about to leave when…
Something in your timeline catches your eye.
It’ll only take a few seconds to check it out, right?
Then you see something else. Then something else.
And before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re left wondering where the hell your time went.
It’s a common problem. Twitter’s a powerful tool for bloggers, but it’s also a dangerous distraction.
Scrolling endlessly through your feed can feel productive – particularly when you tell yourself it’s research – but deep down you know it’s the opposite. Even the “proven” social strategies seem to deliver nothing.
So, is it possible to get the benefits of Twitter without being sidetracked by the distractions or wasting time on ineffective tactics?
Fortunately, it is.
In fact, it’s possible in just 15 minutes a day. Here’s how…

The Secret to Getting Better Results in Less Time on Twitter



By Jimmy Daly

Twitter can be a valuable tool for bloggers, but it can also be a major time suck. Being successful on Twitter with minimal effort means being ruthless with your time.

Typically, bloggers face two main obstacles to a minimalist approach.

Firstly, the Twitter platform itself is loaded with distractions. The feed constantly updates, leaving you anxious to stick around just to see what the next tweet says. Twitter Ads and “helpful” suggestions of new people to follow threaten to send you down a new rabbit hole every few minutes. And frankly, it’s overwhelming.

Secondly, the web is swimming with advice about getting better results from Twitter and so you can easily struggle to cut through the noise. A Google search for “Twitter marketing” returns 678 million results. Good luck sorting through all that! The result is that you feel constant pressure to try the latest strategy without knowing whether it will work.

Despite these distractions, a couple of simple rules will help you make the most of your Twitter time without becoming a Twitter addict.

Read the rest of the article here: The Minimalist Guide to Twitter.


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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

Monday, November 3, 2014

Small Business Owners: 5 Reasons Why You May Not Be Online...and What You Can Do About It

photo credit: EyeTunes via photopin cc
Are you, like 50% of your small business brethren, still not online?

Are you relying on pricey, old-fashioned marketing techniques such as flyers, phone book yellow page ads, and newspaper, radio, and TV ads?

Are you noticing less bang for your buck from these marketing techniques? 

Are you watching your business drain off to your competition with the fancy websites and aggressive social media campaigns?

The Internet has been around for 25 years now. And yet, even though 9 out of 10 potential customers research a business online before making contact, small businesses still rely heavily on the aforementioned old-fashioned techniques to market themselves. 

Unfortunately, these marketing techniques are quickly becoming dinosaurs. 

They don't reach visitors or new residents who don't have access to phone books or have local addresses in which to receive flyers. 

And they don't reach millennials -- those 18-34-year-olds whose noses are eternally buried in their electronic gadgets

Visitors, new residents, and millennials all have Google. 

So do most established, mature locals. 

And those locals who don't have Google? 

They know someone who does.

So let's take a look at some of the things that might be holding you back from making the leap into the great online world, and see if we can make that cliff look a little bit less scary. 

1. I Don't Want to Change

My grandmother used to joke that she and Granddad hadn't moved in 50 years, but their address had changed 10 times. 

This is true of many things. You hold still, and life changes around you. 

You probably set up a system of advertising 20 or 30 years ago that worked brilliantly. Once that was all set, you put it on "maintenance mode", and basically forgot about it. 

But then some smartapple kid had to go and invent the Internet, and that just wrecked everything.

Now you have to go back, dredge up something that you thought you'd never have to deal with again, and put a bunch of effort into updating it.

Ugh.

Well, if you're close to retiring and you can ride out your final few years of business ownership without worrying too much about your bottom line taking a bit of a hit, it's probably okay to ride it out. Steady as she goes.

If, on the other hand, your profits have gone south because your competition is more on the ball than you are...

I hate to tell you this, but the Internet is probably not going away any time soon.

Can you really afford not to get up-to-date?

2. I Don't Have Time to Do It Myself

Maybe you understand the importance of getting on the Internet, but you're running a business, keeping the books, supervising employees, meeting with people, and changing light bulbs. 

Every spare moment of your time is spoken for. 

Well, let  me ask you this: 

Do you think you could get up an hour or two earlier in the morning for a couple of weeks?

If so, invest $5 in this book, and it'll take you through you everything you need to do, in a couple of hours a day or less. 

Once you're set up, maintaining everything will take you maybe 15-30 minutes a day. And it's actually kind of fun once you get the hang of it. It's sort of like meeting all of your customers in a bar all at once and catching up on town gossip with them.

3. It Costs Too Much

There was a time that building a website was a big deal. You had to know how to code a computer. And it was pricey, too.

Yeah, you could still spend a bundle having a designer fix you up with a fancy website. But nowadays, thanks to online utilities such as Wix, Blogger, and Wordpress, you can set up a website yourself for free.

You can also get on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linked In, Pinterest, and a whole bunch of other social media sites for free. And you can get listed in online business listings...

All for free.

Once again, this book, will show you how, for five bucks.

That's pretty cheap.

4. I Don't Want More Business

You're a rare bird, but you might be maxed out. 

You're out of space, you have more customers than you know what to do with, and the last thing you want is a big rush of new customers coming in. 

Okay, I can totally dig that. 

Here's a couple of things to think about, though: 

First, you're probably not going to get a huge rush of new customers overnight. This is kind of like expecting a big rush of customers when you hand out a business card. 

Could it happen? Sure. But it's not really all that likely. 

Second, wouldn't it be nice if you could send people to a website for answers to your most common questions? I'll bet that would save you a ton of time.

Finally, every time a customer asked, "Do you have a website?"

You could answer, "Yes. Here it is."

Wouldn't that feel nice?

5. I'm a Techno-Tard

There's really no reason to have a big, fancy website with a bunch of bells and whistles. You just need something that can be found on Google when your customers hunt for you.

Think of your website as an entry in the yellow pages.

It's basically a repository of your contact information, your products or services, a little something about you, and some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Oh yeah, and some pictures.

That's all you really need.

Sure, social media, blogging, and online business listings are going to help you get found, but the stuff above is all you need.

Those utilities I mentioned before? You know, Blogger, Wix, and all them?

They're really, super easy to use. If you can check email, you can set up a website.

The really nice thing is, if you do everything yourself, you don't have to worry about your web designer croaking and leaving you stranded with a big online mystery and no clue how to update it.

Get this book. Seriously. $5. Easy.


References:

The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OF40J8K
http://www.inc.com/associated-press/small-businesses-have-no-website.html
http://www.webworldindex.com/articles2/Why-Small-Business-Dont-Have-A-Website.html
http://symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com/2014/08/word-of-mouth-marketing-shocking-truth.html
http://symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com/2014/07/your-customers-are-waiting-for-you-on.html


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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Business Evangelist

Online Business Promotions
Connecting the people who have it with the people who want it.

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101